Faith in the Book of James Essay

Submitted By justicerobinson
Words: 698
Pages: 3

In the second chapter of his epistle to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” James in verses 14-17 writes: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ ”
In the text, the Apostle uses the word “faith” three times, but the question is what is the correct meaning of the word in the context of the passage? According to “The Strongest Exhaustive Concordance,” the word faith that James uses is translated from the Greek word “pistis” which appears over 200 times in the New Testament. Its range of meaning includes “to trust in others,” “persuasion of a thing,” “confidence,” “assurance,” “trustworthiness,” “faithfulness,” “honesty” and so on. (1) But as it relates to the text in question, it more accurately means two things: “faith,” as in trusting and relying on God; and “faithful,” as in being a reliable and trustworthy servant to God. Indeed, implicit in the meaning of “pistis” is the notion that action is followed by trust. (2)
Studying the Greek word for faith was an eye-opening experience because in the modern-day English usage of the word it generally means "believing in God,” or “believing that God exists.” Of course, it also means “trusting in God,” but the original Greek use of the word in the New Testament means someone who not only places their trust in God in an intellectual sense, but someone whose actions actually follows that trust. That’s exactly what the writer is talking about in James 2:14-17. In fact, the verse might be translated this way:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith (trust in God) but has no deeds (evidence of that trust)? Can such faith (trust in God but no evidence of that trust) save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith (trust in God) by itself, if it is not accompanied by action (demonstration of that trust by doing what God commands), is dead.’ ”

In the Bible, the saints' faith was demonstrated by the fact that their trust in God led…